Friday, October 23, 2020

Real-life “Wolf of Wall Street” Jordan Belfort sues film producers for fraud

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Jordan Belfort, the former stock broker whose story inspired the hit movie The Wolf of Wall Street, is suing the filmmakers for $300m (£229m).

Belfort was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film, which was Oscar-nominated and a box office success.

He claims Red Granite Productions lied about being “legitimately funded” when he sold the rights to his story.

The company’s lawyer described Belfort’s lawsuit as “desperate and supremely ironic”.

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Red Granite Productions co-founder Riza Aziz was arrested on suspicion of money laundering last year.

Belfort, 57, claims Aziz “concealed these criminal acts and funding sources from him” and that he was “blindsided” over the true source of the company’s funding.

Hollywood producer Aziz is the stepson of the former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is accused of siphoning $700m (£534m) from the government-run 1MDB – who funded the film – into his personal bank accounts.

The film, which is Martin Scorsese’s biggest film success to date, was based on Belfort’s book, which described his wild rise as a young New York stockbroker in the late 80s, and his subsequent fall, through a haze of drugs, women, corruption and fraud.

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Belfort, who spent 22 months in prison for crimes depicted in the 2013 movie, now wants to make his rights deal void, claiming he never would have made it had he known where the money was coming from.

The amount he is suing for – $300m (£229m) – is how much the film made at the box office.

However Red Granite’s lawyer Matthew Schwartz said in a statement: “Jordan Belfort’s lawsuit is nothing more than a desperate and supremely ironic attempt to get out from under an agreement that for the first time in his life made him rich and famous through lawful and legitimate means.”

DiCaprio’s portrayal of Belfort earned him a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination.

The Wolf of Wall Street was adapted again last year, as a live immersive experience in London.

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